Sunday, January 31, 2010

"A Rose for Emily"

A Rose for Emily

by William Faulkner

WHEN Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant--a combined gardener and cook--had seen in at least ten years.

It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores. And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.

Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town, dating from that day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris, the mayor--he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron-remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity. Not that Miss Emily would have accepted charity. Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale to the effect that Miss Emily's father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this way of repaying. Only a man of Colonel Sartoris' generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it.

When the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction. On the first of the year they mailed her a tax notice. February came, and there was no reply. They wrote her a formal letter, asking her to call at the sheriff's office at her convenience. A week later the mayor wrote her himself, offering to call or to send his car for her, and received in reply a note on paper of an archaic shape, in a thin, flowing calligraphy in faded ink, to the effect that she no longer went out at all. The tax notice was also enclosed, without comment.

They called a special meeting of the Board of Aldermen. A deputation waited upon her, knocked at the door through which no visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons eight or ten years earlier. They were admitted by the old Negro into a dim hall from which a stairway mounted into still more shadow. It smelled of dust and disuse--a close, dank smell. The Negro led them into the parlor. It was furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture. When the Negro opened the blinds of one window, they could see that the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray. On a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait of Miss Emily's father.

They rose when she entered--a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand.

She did not ask them to sit. She just stood in the door and listened quietly until the spokesman came to a stumbling halt. Then they could hear the invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain.

Her voice was dry and cold. "I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves."

"But we have. We are the city authorities, Miss Emily. Didn't you get a notice from the sheriff, signed by him?"

"I received a paper, yes," Miss Emily said. "Perhaps he considers himself the sheriff . . . I have no taxes in Jefferson."

"But there is nothing on the books to show that, you see We must go by the--"

"See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson."

"But, Miss Emily--"

"See Colonel Sartoris." (Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years.) "I have no taxes in Jefferson. Tobe!" The Negro appeared. "Show these gentlemen out."



So SHE vanquished them, horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell.

That was two years after her father's death and a short time after her sweetheart--the one we believed would marry her --had deserted her. After her father's death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all. A few of the ladies had the temerity to call, but were not received, and the only sign of life about the place was the Negro man--a young man then--going in and out with a market basket.

"Just as if a man--any man--could keep a kitchen properly, "the ladies said; so they were not surprised when the smell developed. It was another link between the gross, teeming world and the high and mighty Griersons.

A neighbor, a woman, complained to the mayor, Judge Stevens, eighty years old.

"But what will you have me do about it, madam?" he said.

"Why, send her word to stop it," the woman said. "Isn't there a law? "

"I'm sure that won't be necessary," Judge Stevens said. "It's probably just a snake or a rat that nigger of hers killed in the yard. I'll speak to him about it."

The next day he received two more complaints, one from a man who came in diffident deprecation. "We really must do something about it, Judge. I'd be the last one in the world to bother Miss Emily, but we've got to do something." That night the Board of Aldermen met--three graybeards and one younger man, a member of the rising generation.

"It's simple enough," he said. "Send her word to have her place cleaned up. Give her a certain time to do it in, and if she don't. .."

"Dammit, sir," Judge Stevens said, "will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?"

So the next night, after midnight, four men crossed Miss Emily's lawn and slunk about the house like burglars, sniffing along the base of the brickwork and at the cellar openings while one of them performed a regular sowing motion with his hand out of a sack slung from his shoulder. They broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the outbuildings. As they recrossed the lawn, a window that had been dark was lighted and Miss Emily sat in it, the light behind her, and her upright torso motionless as that of an idol. They crept quietly across the lawn and into the shadow of the locusts that lined the street. After a week or two the smell went away.

That was when people had begun to feel really sorry for her. People in our town, remembering how old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt, had gone completely crazy at last, believed that the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were. None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such. We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door. So when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly, but vindicated; even with insanity in the family she wouldn't have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized.

When her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad. At last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized. Now she too would know the old thrill and the old despair of a penny more or less.

The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly.

We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.



SHE WAS SICK for a long time. When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows--sort of tragic and serene.

The town had just let the contracts for paving the sidewalks, and in the summer after her father's death they began the work. The construction company came with riggers and mules and machinery, and a foreman named Homer Barron, a Yankee--a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face. The little boys would follow in groups to hear him cuss the riggers, and the riggers singing in time to the rise and fall of picks. Pretty soon he knew everybody in town. Whenever you heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the square, Homer Barron would be in the center of the group. Presently we began to see him and Miss Emily on Sunday afternoons driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy and the matched team of bays from the livery stable.

At first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interest, because the ladies all said, "Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer." But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige- -

without calling it noblesse oblige. They just said, "Poor Emily. Her kinsfolk should come to her." She had some kin in Alabama; but years ago her father had fallen out with them over the estate of old lady Wyatt, the crazy woman, and there was no communication between the two families. They had not even been represented at the funeral.

And as soon as the old people said, "Poor Emily," the whispering began. "Do you suppose it's really so?" they said to one another. "Of course it is. What else could . . ." This behind their hands; rustling of craned silk and satin behind jalousies closed upon the sun of Sunday afternoon as the thin, swift clop-clop-clop of the matched team passed: "Poor Emily."

She carried her head high enough--even when we believed that she was fallen. It was as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson; as if it had wanted that touch of earthiness to reaffirm her imperviousness. Like when she bought the rat poison, the arsenic. That was over a year after they had begun to say "Poor Emily," and while the two female cousins were visiting her.

"I want some poison," she said to the druggist. She was over thirty then, still a slight woman, though thinner than usual, with cold, haughty black eyes in a face the flesh of which was strained across the temples and about the eyesockets as you imagine a lighthouse-keeper's face ought to look. "I want some poison," she said.

"Yes, Miss Emily. What kind? For rats and such? I'd recom--"

"I want the best you have. I don't care what kind."

The druggist named several. "They'll kill anything up to an elephant. But what you want is--"

"Arsenic," Miss Emily said. "Is that a good one?"

"Is . . . arsenic? Yes, ma'am. But what you want--"

"I want arsenic."

The druggist looked down at her. She looked back at him, erect, her face like a strained flag. "Why, of course," the druggist said. "If that's what you want. But the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for."

Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up. The Negro delivery boy brought her the package; the druggist didn't come back. When she opened the package at home there was written on the box, under the skull and bones: "For rats."



So THE NEXT day we all said, "She will kill herself"; and we said it would be the best thing. When she had first begun to be seen with Homer Barron, we had said, "She will marry him." Then we said, "She will persuade him yet," because Homer himself had remarked--he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks' Club--that he was not a marrying man. Later we said, "Poor Emily" behind the jalousies as they passed on Sunday afternoon in the glittering buggy, Miss Emily with her head high and Homer Barron with his hat cocked and a cigar in his teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove.

Then some of the ladies began to say that it was a disgrace to the town and a bad example to the young people. The men did not want to interfere, but at last the ladies forced the Baptist minister--Miss Emily's people were Episcopal-- to call upon her. He would never divulge what happened during that interview, but he refused to go back again. The next Sunday they again drove about the streets, and the following day the minister's wife wrote to Miss Emily's relations in Alabama.

So she had blood-kin under her roof again and we sat back to watch developments. At first nothing happened. Then we were sure that they were to be married. We learned that Miss Emily had been to the jeweler's and ordered a man's toilet set in silver, with the letters H. B. on each piece. Two days later we learned that she had bought a complete outfit of men's clothing, including a nightshirt, and we said, "They are married." We were really glad. We were glad because the two female cousins were even more Grierson than Miss Emily had ever been.

So we were not surprised when Homer Barron--the streets had been finished some time since--was gone. We were a little disappointed that there was not a public blowing-off, but we believed that he had gone on to prepare for Miss Emily's coming, or to give her a chance to get rid of the cousins. (By that time it was a cabal, and we were all Miss Emily's allies to help circumvent the cousins.) Sure enough, after another week they departed. And, as we had expected all along, within three days Homer Barron was back in town. A neighbor saw the Negro man admit him at the kitchen door at dusk one evening.

And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron. And of Miss Emily for some time. The Negro man went in and out with the market basket, but the front door remained closed. Now and then we would see her at a window for a moment, as the men did that night when they sprinkled the lime, but for almost six months she did not appear on the streets. Then we knew that this was to be expected too; as if that quality of her father which had thwarted her woman's life so many times had been too virulent and too furious to die.

When we next saw Miss Emily, she had grown fat and her hair was turning gray. During the next few years it grew grayer and grayer until it attained an even pepper-and-salt iron-gray, when it ceased turning. Up to the day of her death at seventy-four it was still that vigorous iron-gray, like the hair of an active man.

From that time on her front door remained closed, save for a period of six or seven years, when she was about forty, during which she gave lessons in china-painting. She fitted up a studio in one of the downstairs rooms, where the daughters and granddaughters of Colonel Sartoris' contemporaries were sent to her with the same regularity and in the same spirit that they were sent to church on Sundays with a twenty-five-cent piece for the collection plate. Meanwhile her taxes had been remitted.

Then the newer generation became the backbone and the spirit of the town, and the painting pupils grew up and fell away and did not send their children to her with boxes of color and tedious brushes and pictures cut from the ladies' magazines. The front door closed upon the last one and remained closed for good. When the town got free postal delivery, Miss Emily alone refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it. She would not listen to them.

Daily, monthly, yearly we watched the Negro grow grayer and more stooped, going in and out with the market basket. Each December we sent her a tax notice, which would be returned by the post office a week later, unclaimed. Now and then we would see her in one of the downstairs windows--she had evidently shut up the top floor of the house--like the carven torso of an idol in a niche, looking or not looking at us, we could never tell which. Thus she passed from generation to generation--dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.

And so she died. Fell ill in the house filled with dust and shadows, with only a doddering Negro man to wait on her. We did not even know she was sick; we had long since given up trying to get any information from the Negro

He talked to no one, probably not even to her, for his voice had grown harsh and rusty, as if from disuse.

She died in one of the downstairs rooms, in a heavy walnut bed with a curtain, her gray head propped on a pillow yellow and moldy with age and lack of sunlight.



THE NEGRO met the first of the ladies at the front door and let them in, with their hushed, sibilant voices and their quick, curious glances, and then he disappeared. He walked right through the house and out the back and was not seen again.

The two female cousins came at once. They held the funeral on the second day, with the town coming to look at Miss Emily beneath a mass of bought flowers, with the crayon face of her father musing profoundly above the bier and the ladies sibilant and macabre; and the very old men --some in their brushed Confederate uniforms--on the porch and the lawn, talking of Miss Emily as if she had been a contemporary of theirs, believing that they had danced with her and courted her perhaps, confusing time with its mathematical progression, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches, divided from them now by the narrow bottle-neck of the most recent decade of years.

Already we knew that there was one room in that region above stairs which no one had seen in forty years, and which would have to be forced. They waited until Miss Emily was decently in the ground before they opened it.

The violence of breaking down the door seemed to fill this room with pervading dust. A thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to lie everywhere upon this room decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon the valance curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose-shaded lights, upon the dressing table, upon the delicate array of crystal and the man's toilet things backed with tarnished silver, silver so tarnished that the monogram was obscured. Among them lay a collar and tie, as if they had just been removed, which, lifted, left upon the surface a pale crescent in the dust. Upon a chair hung the suit, carefully folded; beneath it the two mute shoes and the discarded socks.

The man himself lay in the bed.

For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him. What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt, had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust.

Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Most Wanted War Criminal Radovan Karadzic Arrested - Full video

The Poet's View -- Anthony Hecht

Cellist of Sarajevo, Vedran Smailovic

Cellist of Sarajevo, Vedran Smailovic, is wounded by words

A musician who risked his life playing a lament for 22 massacre victims is incensed by a novel capitalising on his act
David Sharrock

For 16 years Vedran Smailovic has been feted as the Cellist of Sarajevo, a musician who defied the city’s snipers by playing for 22 successive days in the rubble of an explosion that claimed the lives of 22 of his fellow Bosnians as they queued to buy bread.

Dressed in evening tails and perching on a fire-scorched chair, the photographs of his grieving face became a searing global image that made artists such as David Bowie, U2, Pavarotti and Sir Paul McCartney clamour to perform with him.

But the fame that accompanied his artistic protest was not welcome. After the conflict he retreated into homely obscurity, finding an attic flat overlooking Carlingford Lough on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, in the quiet backwater of Warrenpoint. Here he spends his days composing music and playing chess.

Smailovic was content with his lot – until he discovered that a novel called The Cellist of Sarajevo was in the bookshops. Written by Steven Galloway, a 32-year-old Canadian who teaches creative writing in Vancouver, it has been hailed as a masterpiece.

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Smailovic is so angry that he is threatening to stage another protest and burn his famous cello in the spot where he played Albinoni’s Adagio during those 22 days of mourning and protest in 1992. The publisher, Random House, describes the novel as telling “the story of three people trying to survive in a city rife with the extreme fear of desperate times, and of the sorrowing cellist who plays undaunted in their midst”.

One of the three characters is a female sniper “who is asked to protect the cellist from a hidden shooter who is out to kill him as he plays his memorial”.The Cellist of Sarajevois on its way to becoming an international bestseller and the film rights have been sold to Hollywood. Smailovic first heard about it through a Canadian artist friend with whom he collaborated on a children’s fable about his musical protest.

“It was like the explosion of an atomic bomb, emotions of anger and pain,” he told The Times. “How is this possible? They steal my name and identity.

“Nobody can take the rights to that from me. It’s quite clear that it is me in the book.”

Last week, while performing at a memorial concert for British soldiers killed in Bosnia, he was advised to fight back. “Friends force me to take legal action. I expect damages for what they have done, an apology and compensation.”

In an author’s note in the novel Galloway says that Smailovic’s actions “inspired this novel, but I have not based the character of the cellist on the real Smailovic”.

A copy of the novel arrived in the post asThe Timesinterviewed the musician, with a dedication: “For Vedran, with great admiration. I hope I have done your actions good service. From a fellow artist. Steven Galloway.”

But that did nothing to soothe Smailovic’s anger.

“I am still in shock. I am not naive. I am not interested in his bloody fiction, I am interested in reality. They are using my picture and advertising their product with my name. I am not interested at all. I never blessed this project.

“I am not hiding here, but for ten years I have not wanted to go out. I don’t want to be involved any more as a peacemaker or a public person. I did what I did and that was that, mission accomplished. I have a right to my privacy. I will do the occasional event for charity on a voluntary basis but I don’t want to go public again and now because of this book I am forced to.” Still tormented by his memories of the siege of Sarajevo, Smailovic rails against the misrepresentations of his protest that refuse to go away. “I didn’t play for 22 days, I played all my life in Sarajevo and for the two years of the siege each and every day.

“They keep saying I played at four in the afternoon, but the explosion was at ten in the morning and I am not stupid, I wasn’t looking to get shot by snipers so I varied my routine.

“I never stopped playing music throughout the siege. My weapon was my cello. But if I do not get justice now I will burn it back in Sarajevo.”

He is returning to the city next month where he will be reunited with the folk singer Joan Baez and take part in an American documentary about her life. Ms Baez was inspired to visit him in Sarajevo during the height of the fighting, an act of solidarity that he considers to have been braver than his own actions.

Galloway, contacted by The Times, confessed that he was “upset” by Smailovic’s reaction but insisted that he felt he had done nothing wrong nor owed the real Cellist of Sarajevo any compensation. “I’ve been an admirer of his for some time. But I’m not sure entirely about in what way he feels that what I’ve done with his identity is different from the other works of art which have been inspired by him.

“I don’t use his name, I call my character the Cellist and he’s really only a character in the first five pages. It’s not really about him, it’s about the other characters and their reactions to what he does.

“I understand where he’s coming from but I just wish that he’d read it. I didn’t contact him while writing the book because the characters don’t have contact with the Cellist and so it doesn’t really matter to them what he does.

“The problem is that Mr Smailovic took a cello on to a street in a war and that’s an extremely public act. I can’t ignore that as an artist. I really hoped when I sent him the book that he would feel it had added to the discussion that he started.

“I’m at a bit of a loss to know how to address it. I don’t think that I crossed any lines about writing fictional things about a living person. I got most of my stuff off the internet.”

But it is not as if Galloway was not warned of Smailovic’s feelings about the book. Deryk Houston, a multimedia artist who lives near the author in British Columbia, told The Times that he had told Galloway that he should have been open with the cellist from the beginning of the project.

“I feel that he should have been contacted at the early stages of this excellent book by Mr Galloway. Even if there is no legal obligation, I felt that the right thing to have done would have been for him to offer Vedran some sort of financial arrangement.

“I told him that I wouldn’t enjoy cashing any royalty cheques if Vedran was not compensated, because he created the Cellist of Sarajevo.” Mr Houston described the author as “a very nice young man” but added: “It’s my feeling that he dropped the ball on this one due to his youth, or perhaps he was given poor advice by those around him. I don’t know.

“I wrote Vedran about it because I would rather he heard about it through friends than seeing it in a book store one day. We offered to accompany Mr Galloway to Northern Ireland and introduce him to Vedran if it would help. He thought about that idea but did not take us up on the offer.”

However, Galloway said that he did not believe that the painter’s suggestion of paying Smailovic made any sense.

“If I had, I suppose, sat down with him and taken up his time . . . but I don’t see how fiction writers can start paying their sources of inspiration. I would become a pariah of the literary world if I were to do that.

“I don’t even know if I owe him anything on a fiscal level. What about the 25 people I interviewed whose stories are in the book? Should I pay them too? How do you work this out?”

As Vedran Smailovic nurses his anger, troubled by the resurrected memories of a time of suffering and brooding over the money flowing into a young Canadian author’s bank account, Galloway is facing his own dilemma.

“I never thought I would be making an enemy of Vedran Smailovic. I thought he just might not like the book.”

Famous cellist claims story stolen by Canadian author

A man once known worldwide as the Cellist of Sarajevo wants compensation from a Vancouver author who he said has used his reputation in a bestselling novel without asking.

The Cellist of Sarajevo is inspired, in part, by the tale of cellist Vedran Smailovic, a musician made famous during the Bosnian conflict in 1992.

With a stool and his cello, Smailovic once played on top of the rubble from a deadly mortar attack in Sarajevo. In plain view of snipers, he played for 22 days straight — one day for each person killed during the mortar attack.

So does the character in Steven Galloway's book, published this year. It's a war tale woven around three characters in Sarajevo and their reaction to a cellist character inspired by Smailovic, whose story has travelled around the globe.

"The cellist in my book is based on a real character. He doesn't ever speak in the book. I was kind of careful not to put words, I don't want to put words in his mouth," Galloway told CBC News Thursday.

In interviews with other media outlets, Galloway said the cellist in his novel is only a character in the first five pages of the book, which focuses more on the other three characters.

He added that most of the information he found out about Smailovic was readily available on the internet.

Smailovic, however, said he is furious the author never contacted him to seek his permission to be included in the novel, a bestseller in Canada and Britain.

'How can somebody steal your work?'
"It's not fair, it's not on. It's unbelievable," said the musician, who still composes and records music from a small village south of Belfast, in Northern Ireland.

"How can somebody steal your work, my, my sadness, my, my tragedy?"

Smailovic said that if people are making money off tales from his past, he is entitled to a share of it.

"They put my picture, my face, on the front, on the cover with no permission. They don't ask me — they use my name advertising their product. I don't care about fiction, I care about reality."

Galloway, who interviewed more than 25 people for the book and offered compensation to none of them, said Smailovic's story is fair game because so much has already been written about him.

"[I don't know] for what I would be compensating. I mean, he performed a public act and I mentioned it?" said Galloway, who sent Smailovic an autographed copy of the novel after it was released.

The use of a photo featuring Smailovic on the cover of the novel, however, may be a grey area, according to entertainment lawyer David Zitzerman.

He questioned whether the use of Smailovic's photo and name in the promotion of the book would allow the musician to make a claim for compensation along the lines of a celebrity whose image or likeness is being used without permission.

Read more:



For William and Emily Maxwell

At this time of day
One could hear the caulking irons sound
Against the hulls in the dockyard.
Tar smoke rose between trees
And large oily patches floated on the water,
Undulating unevenly
In the purple sunlight
Like the surfaces of Florentine bronze.

At this time of day
Sounds carried clearly
Through hot silences of fading daylight.
The weedy fields lay drowned
In odors of creosote and salt.
Richer than double-colored taffeta,
Oil floated in the harbor,
Amoeboid, iridescent, limp.
It called to mind the slender limbs
Of Donatello's David.

It was lovely and she was in love.
They had taken a covered boat to one of the islands.
The city sounds were faint in the distance:
Rattling of carriages, tumult of voices,
Yelping of dogs on the decks of barges.

At this time of day
Sunlight empurpled the world.
The poplars darkened in ranks
Like imperial servants.
Water lapped and lisped
In its native and quiet tongue.
Oakum was in the air and the scent of grasses.
There would be fried smelts and cherries and cream.
Nothing designed by Italian artisans
Would match this evening's perfection.
The puddled oil was a miracle of colors.

from The Darkness & The Light, copyright Anthony Hecht 2001. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Online Source.

"Letter" by Anthony Hecht

A Letter

I have been wondering
What you are thinking about, and by now suppose
It is certainly not me.
But the crocus is up, and the lark, and the blundering
Blood knows what it knows.
It talks to itself all night, like a sliding moonlit sea.

Of course, it is talking of you.
At dawn, where the ocean has netted its catch of lights,
The sun plants one lithe foot
On that spill of mirrors, but the blood goes worming through
Its warm Arabian nights,
Naming your pounding name again in the dark heart-root.

Who shall, of course, be nameless.
Anyway, I should want you to know I have done my best,
As I'm sure you have, too.
Others are bound to us, the gentle and blameless
Whose names are not confessed
In the ceaseless palaver. My dearest, the clear unquaried blue

Of those depths is all but blinding.
You may remember that once you brought my boys
Two little woolly birds.
Yesterday the older one asked for you upon finding
Your thrush among his toys.
And the tides welled about me, and I could find no words.

There is not much else to tell.
One tries one's best to continue as before,
Doing some little good.
But I would have you know that all is not well
With a man dead set to ignore
The endless repetitions of his own murmurous blood.

Copyright 1994. Online Source

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mid-Term Examination

AP English
Mid-Term Examination
January 11, 2010
Essay questions should be answered in the blue book. I would advise at least two pages per answer. Introductory paragraphs should have a clear thesis statement that expresses the major point affirmed and supported in the body of the essay. All generalizations should be backed up with specific references to the respective text.

1. In Kate Chopin's “The Awakening” (1899), protagonist Edna Pontellier is said to possess "That outward existence which conforms, the inward life that questions." In Richard Bausch‘s novel, Peace, identify a character who outwardly conforms while questioning inwardly. Then write an essay in which you analyze how this tension between outward conformity and inward questioning contributes to the meaning of Bausch’s novel. Make particular reference to the novel’s conclusion and its meaning to the work as a whole.
2. Critic Roland Barthes has said, "Literature is the question minus the answer." Considering Barthes' observation, write an essay in which you analyze a central question raised in Tobias Wolff’s novel, Old School, and the extent to which it offers answers. Explain how the author's treatment of this question affects your understanding of the work as a whole.
3. Works of literature often depict characters fighting against social or moral hierarchies that they find oppressive. Explore how this kind of battle takes place in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, how it shapes the work as a whole, and how such a fight is resolved by the close of the play.
Poem Critique:
In a well-organized essay, explain how the poetic techniques of this poem express the speaker’s attitude to his subject.
Samurai Song

by Robert Pinsky

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had no
Mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Question 1


Total time—2 hours
Question 1

(Suggested time—40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.)

In the following speech from Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey considers his sudden downfall from his position as advisor to the king. Spokesmen for the king have just left Wolsey alone on stage. Read the speech carefully. Then write a well-organized essay in which you analyze how Shakespeare uses elements such as allusion, figurative language, and tone to convey Wolsey’s complex response to his dismissal from court.

So farewell—to the little good you bear me.
Farewell? a long farewell to all my greatness!
This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hopes, to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honors thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls as I do. I have ventur’d,
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,1
This many summers in a sea of glory,
But far beyond my depth. My high-blown pride
At length broke under me, and now has left me,
Weary and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream that must for ever hide me.
Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye!
I feel my heart new open’d. O how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes’ favors!
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
More pangs and fears than wars or women have;
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,2
Never to hope again.

1 air-filled sacs
2 Satan, the fallen angel


Question 1

(Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey’s Speech)

The score reflects the quality of the essay as a whole—its content, its style, its mechanics. Students are rewarded for what they do well. The score for an exceptionally well-written essay may be raised by 1 point above the otherwise appropriate score. In no case may a poorly written essay be scored higher than a 3.

9–8 These essays offer a persuasive analysis of Shakespeare’s use of literary
elements to convey Wolsey’s complex response to his dismissal from court. The essays offer a range of interpretations; they provide convincing readings of Wolsey’s complex response, Shakespeare’s use of literary devices, and the relationship between the two. They demonstrate consistent and effective control over the elements of composition in language appropriate to the analysis of poetic speech. Their textual references are apt and specific. Though they may not be error-free, these essays are perceptive in their analysis and demonstrate writing that is clear and sophisticated, and in the case of an essay earning a 9, especially persuasive.

7–6 These competent essays offer a reasonable analysis of Shakespeare’s use of literary elements to convey Wolsey’s complex response to his dismissal. They are less thorough or less precise in their discussion of Wolsey’s response and Shakespeare’s use of literary techniques, and their analysis of the relationship between the two is less convincing. These essays demonstrate the student’s ability to express ideas clearly with references to the text, although they do not exhibit the same level of effective writing as essays in the 9–8 scoring range. While essays scored 7–6 are generally well written, those scored a 7 demonstrate more sophistication in both substance and style.

5 These essays may respond to the assigned task with a plausible reading of Shakespeare’s use of literary elements to convey Wolsey’s response, but they may be superficial in their analysis of the speech. They often rely on paraphrase, but paraphrase that contains some analysis, implicit or explicit. Their analysis of Wolsey’s response or Shakespeare’s techniques may be vague, formulaic, or minimally supported by references to the text. There may be minor misinterpretations of the speech. The essays demonstrate some control of language, but the writing may be marred by surface errors. These essays are not as well conceived, organized, or developed as those in the 7–6 range.

4–3 These lower-half essays fail to offer an adequate analysis of the speech. The analysis may be partial, unconvincing, or irrelevant, or may ignore the complexity of Wolsey’s response or Shakespeare’s use of techniques. Evidence from the speech may be slight or misconstrued, or the essays may rely on paraphrase only. The writing often demonstrates a lack of control over the conventions of composition: inadequate development of ideas, accumulation of errors, or a focus that is unclear, inconsistent, or repetitive. Essays scored a 3 may contain significant misreading and/or demonstrate incompetent writing.

2–1 These essays compound the weaknesses of those in the 4–3 range. Although some attempt has been made to respond to the prompt, assertions are presented with little clarity, organization, or support from the speech. The essays may contain serious errors in grammar and mechanics. They may offer a complete misreading or be unacceptably brief. Essays scored a 1 contain little coherent discussion of the speech.

0 These essays do no more than make a reference to the task.

Javier Arevalo's Mid-Term Essay Introduction

This intro isn't perfect. However, it has the essential elements, or most of them, that AP-level writing requires. It sees significance in its summary of the plot; it embraces the meaning of the work in question in its entirety. It is clearly written.

In Richard Bausch's novel, "Peace", Robert Marson, the leader of a small group of soldiers, struggles to maintain his identity during the hardships of fighting a war. The novel begins with Glick, Marson, and a group of soldiers who are ambushed by a German soldier. In the ensuing fight, two soldiers are shot, and in revenge, Glick kills the defenseless whore. This action sets the stage for an inner battle that Marson and the other soldiers fight to keep their humanity.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Death of Yugoslavia part 01 of 30

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sarajevo Under Siege - Bosnia

Sarajevo War Footage 1992-1995

The Siege of Sarajevo

The Siege of Sarajevo

Surrounded with hills and mountains and located in the Miljatska River valley, the beautiful Sarajevo is an often admired site of intellectuals and peoples of all races. Sarajevo, which gets its name from the word "serai", which is Turkish for "palace", was founded in the 15th century and later became a military, administrative, and commercial center of Turkey. Sarajevo has served as a setting for a great number of important historical events, events that have often been tumultuous and engrossed in conflict.

Back to "The Balkans" Chronology

In 1878 Sarajevo passed to Austria-Hungary as a result of the Russo-Turkish wars. It then became the center of attention as the world waited in anticipation of war when Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated on June 28, 1914, by a Serbian man named Gavrilo Princip. This was the spark that set off World War 1. This war brought about much suffering and human carnage, and Sarajevo's part in conflict did not end with this event.

In March 1992, Bosnia-Hercegovina declared its independence from the former Yugoslav federation. The Serbs who lived in this ethnically diverse area feared the idea of being controlled by the Muslim Slavs who formed the majority of the population. The Serbs soon armed themselves and began to fight the Muslims. Most of the towns in Bosnia-Hercegovina fell, except for Sarajevo. On April 6, 1992, Serb militants opened fire on thousands of peace demonstrators in Sarajevo, killing at least five and wounding 30. This began a siege that has been termed "the worst in Europe since the end of World War II".

All roads leading in and out of Sarajevo were blockaded, and the airport was shut down. Approximately 400,000 residents were trapped in the siege, and they were cut off from food, medicine, water, and supplies of electricity. Thousands of civilians were killed and wounded, and every imaginable offense against human rights was committed ranging from ethnic cleansing and rape, to mass executions and starvation. Residents came very close to complete starvation, and their only chance for survival weighed in the balance on the success of UN airlifts from the Sarajevo airport that was opened in late June of 1992.

In a short time, every building was damaged or destroyed, and no one was safe from attack. On June 1, 1993, at least fifteen people were killed and 80 more were wounded as a result of a mortar attack during a soccer game. Red Cross trucks, which were given clearance to enter Sarajevo, were raided and destroyed, and maternity wards were hit killing mothers and newborns alike. On July 12, 1993, twelve people were killed while in line for water, and on February 5 of the following year mortar shells killed 68, and wounding 200 others in the Sarajevo market place.

Hope was prevalent for a long awaited peace at the outset of 1995 with the embarking of a truce, but on May 1, mortars rocked Sarajevo and the Serbs raided a UN-monitored weapons collection site. This heightened hostilities to such an extent that NATO jets attacked Serb ammunition depots on May 25 of that same year, and not until October 11, 1995 did another cease-fire take effect in this war torn city. On February 29, 1996, the Bosnian government declared that the siege of Sarajevo was over. However, the scars of this once proud city that was an intellectual center noted for its multi-cultural tolerance will not soon be forgotten. Its present population has decreased for 650,000 before the war to 220,000 today. As we head into the new millennium, we can only hope that the history of such a city can take a turn for the more peaceful as families, races, nations, and the world mourns.



"Sarajevo," Collier's Encyclopedia, vol. 20, (New York: P. F. Collier, Inc., 1993).

Smolowe, Jill. "Land of Slaughter," Time, June 8, 1992, vol. 139, no. 23. pp. 32-36.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sarajevo Under Siege - Bosnia

Siege of Sarajevo (Opsada Sarajeva)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Past Open-Ended Questions from the AP

1992. In a novel or play, a confidant (male) or a confidante (female) is a character, often a friend or relative of the hero or heroine, whose role is to be present when the hero or heroine needs a sympathetic listener to confide in. Frequently the result is, as Henry James remarked, that the confidant or confidante can be as much "the reader's friend as the protagonist's." However, the author sometimes uses this character for other purposes as well. Choose a confidant or confidante from a novel or play of recognized literary merit and write an essay in which you discuss the various ways this character functions in the work. You may write your essay on one of the following novels or plays or on another of comparable quality. Do not write on a poem or short story.

1993. "The true test of comedy is that it shall awaken thoughtful laughter." Choose a novel, play, or long poem in which a scene or character awakens "thoughtful laughter" in the reader. Write an essay in which you show why this laughter is "thoughtful" and how it contributes to the meaning of the work.

1994. In some works of literature, a character who appears briefly, or does not appear at all, is a significant presence. Choose a novel or play of literary merit and write an essay in which you show how such a character functions in the work. You may wish to discuss how the character affects action, theme, or the development of other characters. Avoid plot summary.

1995. Writers often highlight the values of a culture or a society by using characters who are alienated from that culture or society because of gender, race, class, or creed. Choose a novel or a play in which such a character plays a significant role and show how that character's alienation reveals the surrounding society's assumptions or moral values.

1996. The British novelist Fay Weldon offers this observation about happy endings. "The writers, I do believe, who get the best and most lasting response from their readers are the writers who offer a happy ending through moral development. By a happy ending, I do not mean mere fortunate events -- a marriage or a last minute rescue from death -- but some kind of spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation, even with the self, even at death." Choose a novel or play that has the kind of ending Weldon describes. In a well-written essay, identify the "spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation" evident in the ending and explain its significance in the work as a whole.

1997. Novels and plays often include scenes of weddings, funerals, parties, and other social occasions. Such scenes may reveal the values of the characters and the society in which they live. Select a novel or play that includes such a scene and, in a focused essay, discuss the contribution the scene makes to the meaning of the work as a whole. You may choose a work from the list below or another novel or play of literary merit.

1998. In his essay "Walking," Henry David Thoreau offers the following assessment of literature:

In literature it is only the wild that attracts us. Dullness is but another name for tameness. It is the uncivilized free and wild thinking in Hamlet and The Iliad, in all scriptures and mythologies, not learned in schools, that delights us.

From the works that you have studied in school, choose a novel, play, or epic poem that you may initially have thought was conventional and tame but that you now value for its "uncivilized free and wild thinking." Write an essay in which you explain what constitutes its "uncivilized free and wild thinking" and how that thinking is central to the value of the work as a whole. Support your ideas with specific references to the work you choose.

1999. The eighteenth-century British novelist Laurence Sterne wrote, "No body, but he who has felt it, can conceive what a plaguing thing it is to have a man's mind torn asunder by two projects of equal strength, both obstinately pulling in a contrary direction at the same time."

From a novel or play choose a character (not necessarily the protagonist) whose mind is pulled in conflicting directions by two compelling desires, ambitions, obligations, or influences. Then, in a well-organized essay, identify each of the two conflicting forces and explain how this conflict with one character illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. You may use one of the novels or plays listed below or another novel or work of similar literary quality.

2000. Many works of literature not readily identified with the mystery or detective story genre nonetheless involve the investigation of a mystery. In these works, the solution to the mystery may be less important than the knowledge gained in the process of its investigation. Choose a novel or play in which one or more of the characters confront a mystery. Then write an essay in which you identify the mystery and explain how the investigation illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

2001. One definition of madness is "mental delusion or the eccentric behavior arising from it." But Emily Dickinson wrote

Much madness is divinest Sense-
To a discerning Eye-

Novelists and playwrights have often seen madness with a "discerning Eye." Select a novel or play in which a character's apparent madness or irrational behavior plays an important role. Then write a well-organized essay in which you explain what this delusion or eccentric behavior consists of and how it might be judged reasonable. Explain the significance of the "madness" to the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

2002. Morally ambiguous characters -- characters whose behavior discourages readers from identifying them as purely evil or purely good -- are at the heart of many works of literature. Choose a novel or play in which a morally ambiguous character plays a pivotal role. Then write an essay in which you explain how the character can be viewed as morally ambiguous and why his or her moral ambiguity is significant to the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

2002, Form B. Often in literature, a character's success in achieving goals depends on keeping a secret and divulging it only at the right moment, if at all. Choose a novel or play of literary merit that requires a character to keep a secret. In a well-organized essay, briefly explain the necessity for secrecy and how the character's choice to reveal or keep the secret affects the plot and contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. You may select a work from the list below, or you may choose another work of recognized literary merit suitable to the topic. Do NOT write about a short story, poem, or film.

2003. According to critic Northrop Frye, "Tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscape that they seem the inevitable conductors of the power about them, great trees more likely to be struck by lightning than a clump of grass. Conductors may of course be instruments as well as victims of the divisive lightning." Select a novel or play in which a tragic figure functions as an instrument of the suffering of others. Then write an essay in which you explain how the suffering brought upon others by that figure contributes to the tragic vision of the work as a whole.

2003, Form B. Novels and plays often depict characters caught between colliding cultures -- national, regional, ethnic, religious, institutional. Such collisions can call a character's sense of identity into question. Select a novel or play in which a character responds to such a cultural collison. Then write a well-organized essay in which you describe the character's response and explain its relevance to the work as a whole.

2004. Critic Roland Barthes has said, "Literature is the question minus the answer." Choose a novel, or play, and, considering Barthes' observation, write an essay in which you analyze a central question the work raises and the extent to which it offers answers. Explain how the author's treatment of this question affects your understanding of the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

2004, Form B. The most important themes in literature are sometimes developed in scenes in which a death or deaths take place. Choose a novel or play and write a well-organized essay in which you show how a specific death scene helps to illuminate the meaning of the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

2005. In Kate Chopin's The Awakening (1899), protagonist Edna Pontellier is said to possess "That outward existence which conforms, the inward life that questions." In a novel or play that you have studied, identify a character who outwardly conforms while questioning inwardly. Then write an essay in which you analyze how this tension between outward conformity and inward questioning contributes to the meaning of the work. Avoid mere plot summary.

2005, Form B. One of the strongest human drives seems to be a desire for power. Write an essay in which you discuss how a character in a novel or a drama struggles to free himself or herself from the power of others or seeks to gain power over others. Be sure to demonstrate in your essay how the author uses this power struggle to enhance the meaning of the work.

2006. Many writers use a country setting to establish values within a work of literature. For example, the country may be a place of virtue and peace or one of primitivism and ignorance. Choose a novel or play in which such a setting plays a significant role. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the country setting functions in the work as a whole.

2006, Form B. In many works of literature, a physical journey - the literal movement from one place to another - plays a central role. Choose a novel, play, or epic poem in which a physical journey is an important element and discuss how the journey adds to the meaning of the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

2007. In many works of literature, past events can affect, positively or negatively, the present activities, attitudes, or values of a character. Choose a novel or play in which a character must contend with some aspect of the past, either personal or societal. Then write an essay in which you show how the character's relationship to the past contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.

2007, Form B. Works of literature often depict acts of betrayal. Friends and even family may betray a protagonist; main characters may likewise be guilty of treachery or may betray their own values. Select a novel or play that includes such acts of betrayal. Then, in a well-written essay, analyze the nature of the betrayal and show how it contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.

2008. In a literary work, a minor character, often known as a foil, possesses traits that emphasize, by contrast or comparison, the distinctive characteristics and qualities of the main character. For example, the ideas or behavior of a minor character might be used to highlight the weaknesses or strengths of the main character. Choose a novel or play in which a minor character serves as a foil for the main character. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the relation between the minor character and the major character illuminates the meaning of the work.

2008, Form B. In some works of literature, childhood and adolescence are portrayed as times graced by innocence and a sense of wonder; in other works, they are depicted as times of tribulation and terror. Focusing on a single novel or play, explain how its representation of childhood or adolescence shapes the meaning of the work as a whole.

2009. A symbol is an object, action, or event that represents something or that creates a range of associations beyond itself. In literary works a symbol can express an idea, clarify meaning, or enlarge literal meaning. Select a novel or play and, focusing on one symbol, write an essay analyzing how that symbol functions in the work and what it reveals about the characters or themes of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

2009, Form B. Many works of literature deal with political or social issues. Choose a novel or play that focuses on a political oe social issue. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the author uses literary elements to explore this issue and explazin how the issue contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mid-Term Review

The Mid-term examination will cover the following:

1. "Old School"

2. "Peace"

3. "Hamlet"

4. All the poems on the blog.

Four essays. Thesis-driven. Generalizations apt, and supported by specific references to the text.